Peter Higgs: I Wouldn’t Be Productive Enough For Today’s Academic System:
Peter Higgs: ‘Today I wouldn’t get an academic job. It’s as simple as that’. Photograph: David Levene for the Guardian
Peter Higgs, the British physicist who gave his name to the Higgs boson, believes no university would employ him in today’s academic system because he would not be considered “productive” enough.
The emeritus professor at Edinburgh University, who says he has never sent an email, browsed the internet or even made a mobile phone call, published fewer than 10 papers after his groundbreaking work, which identified the mechanism by which subatomic material acquires mass, was published in 1964.
He doubts a similar breakthrough could be achieved in today’s academic culture, because of the expectations on academics to collaborate and keep churning out papers. He said: “It’s difficult to imagine how I would ever have enough peace and quiet in the present sort of climate to do what I did in 1964.”
Speaking to the Guardian en route to Stockholm to receive the 2013 Nobel prize for science, Higgs, 84, said he would almost certainly have been sacked had he not been nominated for the Nobel in 1980.
Edinburgh University’s authorities then took the view, he later learned, that he “might get a Nobel prize – and if he doesn’t we can always get rid of him”.
Higgs said he became “an embarrassment to the department when they did research assessment exercises”. A message would go around the department saying: “Please give a list of your recent publications.” Higgs said: “I would send back a statement: ‘None.’ “
By the time he retired in 1996, he was uncomfortable with the new academic culture. “After I retired it was quite a long time before I went back to my department. I thought I was well out of it. It wasn’t my way of doing things any more. Today I wouldn’t get an academic job. It’s as simple as that. I don’t think I would be regarded as productive enough.”
Higgs revealed that his career had also been jeopardised by his disagreements in the 1960s and 70s with the then principal, Michael Swann, who went on to chair the BBC. Higgs objected to Swann’s handling of student protests and to the university’s shareholdings in South African companies during the apartheid regime. “[Swann] didn’t understand the issues, and denounced the student leaders.”
He regrets that the particle he identified in 1964 became known as the “God particle”.
He said: “Some people get confused between the science and the theology. They claim that what happened at Cern proves the existence of God.”
An atheist since the age of 10, he fears the nickname “reinforces confused thinking in the heads of people who are already thinking in a confused way. If they believe that story about creation in seven days, are they being intelligent?”
He also revealed that he turned down a knighthood in 1999. “I’m rather cynical about the way the honours system is used, frankly. A whole lot of the honours system is used for political purposes by the government in power.”
He has not yet decided which way he will vote in the referendum onScottish independence. “My attitude would depend a little bit on how much progress the lunatic right of the Conservative party makes in trying to get us out of Europe. If the UK were threatening to withdraw from Europe, I would certainly want Scotland to be out of that.”
He has never been tempted to buy a television, but was persuaded to watch The Big Bang Theory last year, and said he wasn’t impressed.
This is important. Stop big cat hunting. This literally is making me cry.
The way the lion tries to shut out the light…
:Why would you shoot it?
Stop killing the animals.
Not normally a fan of these but my sister posted it and so did Hope so obviously I want to join in!
Rule 1: Always post the rules
Rule 2: Answer the questions the person who tagged you asked and write 10 new ones
Rule 3: Tag 10 people and link them to the post
Rule 4: Actually tell them you tagged them
1. Did you have a favorite childhood teddy? If so what was it and what was it’s name?
I had a few favourite Teddy’s, a puffin, a frog and a bear.
2. What is the last book you read?
Vulkan Lives - Nick Kyme
3. What are your 5 favorite movies?
(In no order) The Tree of Life, Snatch, The Big Lebowski, The prestige, Kate and Leopold.
Tbh that’s more the first 5 out of a top 10, even then I couldn’t really choose.
4. If you were on a desert island and were only allowed to take one thing what would it be and why would you take it?
The knowledge of how to return.
5. All time favorite song?
Nope, sorry. There is just too much.
6. Where is the best food you’ve ever had from? What food was it?
This is tricky! It’s a close run thing buuut Castellamare -Swansea. I had a rare filet steak with black pepper sauce. To this day it is the most wonderful meal I have ever had.
7. Where is the last place you went on holiday/vacation to?
Amsterdam, I honestly had a escalation there. I love it.
8. What types of movies are the best?
The ones you enjoy.
9. What were your first words?
I have no clue, not a quote.
10. If you could go anywhere in the world on a holiday/vacation and not pay a thing, what would your top 5 destinations be?
This question is clearly about how much you could spend and as such I will choose places that would be perfect in which to spend money!
Hong Kong, New York, Rome, London, Berlin.
Honestly just for shopping.
1. Favourite clothing style? Not necessarily on you, just your favourite.
Whatever is comfiest!
2. Who is your favourite youtuber? No reasons necessary. (keep it clean)
3. Favourite place to be, and what would be the perfect circumstances in that place?
Another hard question!
A nice fresh morning at the foot of the Lake Garda (or somewhere similar) surrounded by wonderful forests and vineyards.
I would be fit and healthy from a solid season of training throughout the winter. The weather would be clear and hot, a good 30 degrees C with a very slight cool breeze. Dare I pick a bike? What has me ATM is the Trek LTD cancellara edition Domane, super record EPS version though.
That bike underneath me with a big day ahead, lots of cafés and restaurants. Hope at the chalet with the steak from Castellamare and some wine.
4. If you had to pick an avenger/ villain to kill off which one and definitely why.
I have to agree with Hope, there is no light without darkness.
5. If you could pick what you looked like, what would you look like (you can change everything, a little bit, or nothing, no one’s judging)
Only I can change me. I pick how I look.
6. If you could only cuddle one baby animal which one would it be an why?
7. What’s your favourite personality trait that you have. Don’t be modest.
I don’t know.
8. If you could be in any film which one would it be and what would you do?
Kate and Leopold, if talk to Leopold.
9. If you could pick any skill to have that you would be an absolute expert at, what would it be?
To be given mastery of a skill is to miss the point entirely.
10. If you could choose a life of hellish immortality or a mortal life of joy which would you choose.
Mortal life of joy.
1. Name one thing you love about someone close to you.
2. One thing you are thankful for everyday and why.
3. Favourite pass time and why.
4. If you could have any tattoo you wanted by a proper expert, price is not an issue, what would it be of and why?
Deer science nebula life explosion. Chest.
5. If you could re-live any moment of your life so far, which would it be and why?
The first time I saw Hope, with my old eyes.
6. If you could tell someone one thing and one thing only, what would it be and to whom?
"You’re my one true love" to Hope.
7. Easy one, favourite food?
You say it’s easy.
8. Favourite smell?
9. If you had the ability to travel back in time to experience any event in history, what would you see?
Just give me the ability, I’ll make a list.
10. Name one item you can’t go a day without.
My phone, incase people aren’t around.
I’ll not bother tagging people, any of my followers feel free to do this